HSSH April Newsletter 4/2024

Recent news and upcoming events at HSSH – read more below and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter!


HSSH's funding and course applications opening in the spring!


The application periods for Catalyst Grant funding, the HSSH Visiting Professor Program, and Academic Career Planning and Leadership course are moved from autumn to spring.

"We have received constructive feedback on the application periods set in autumn and the scheduling pressures caused by the decisions being published at the end of the year. We hope that moving the application periods to an earlier date will improve the planning opportunities for research groups," says HSSH Director Risto Kunelius.

"The applications required for all forms of support are quite light. We hope to receive many applications, even though spring also has its busy times."

Catalyst Grant Funding offers seed money for research groups to enable new initiatives, enhance sharing of research data and acquiring equipments. The call for applications intended for use during the year 2025 opens on May 2 and closes on June 8. Selected projects will be announced at the beginning of September.

HSSH Visiting Professor Program supports distinguished researchers' visits in the City Centre Campus research groups. A joint application from at least two research groups is needed to support a visit. The support covers travel costs, 2 weeks of accommodation, and the guest's fee. Application period for the year 2025 opens on April 24 and ends on May 31. Selected visitors will be announced in August. Send your application via this e-form.

ACLA (Academic Career Planning and Leadership) is a multidisciplinary course designed for postdoctoral researchers to support career planning, securing project funding, and building a research group. The course starting in October 2025 opens for applications on April 29 and ends on May 31. Participants will be selected before Midsummer.


HSSH Visiting Professor Program is open for applications


The mission of HSSH is to support multidisciplinary research, cross-faculty cooperation and methodological development at the City Center Campus. In order to support this, we invite proposals for HSSH Visiting Professor positions for 2025.

The program aims to support international research networks at the city center campus. All HSSH-affiliated research groups can propose candidates. We are seeking visiting professors that will catalyze research group cooperation inside the university of Helsinki by serving more than one research group, and enhance interdisciplinary debates and help.

Requirements and compensation:

  • The application for a Visiting Professor must be submitted by a PI at the University of Helsinki and the application must be supported by another PI at the University of Helsinki.
  • At the end of the application process HSSH formally invites the accepted Visiting Professor to the University of Helsinki.
  • The Visiting Professor Program includes a minimum of two weeks research visits per year present at the City Centre Campus in Helsinki.
  • A compensation of 4000 euros for the Visiting Professor and funding for travel and accommodation fees.

The PIs at the University of Helsinki have an important role in hosting the visiting professors and acting as a strong point of contact between the Visiting Professor and the research group.

Send the application via this e-form: https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/129676/lomake.html

For more information on the Visiting Professor Program, contact Pekka Mäkelä pekka.a.makela@helsinki.fi

The yearly call for applications is open 24.4.–31.5.2024.


REMINDER– Are you running an active or emerging research group at the City Centre Campus? Fill the HSSH affiliation survey 


HSSH has launched a new Research Group Survey and invites all active research groups at the City Centre Campus to update their information, interests and needs.

“We hope research groups already affiliated with the HSSH network to update their information and at the same time, we invite new research groups to join in”, HSSH director Risto Kunelius says.

“Based on the feedback of our first-round survey in 2021 we have streamlined the questionnaire. It is now easier and quicker to fill out – and that we will be able use the information more effectively.”

“We know that nobody particularly loves the constant flood of questionnaires and e-forms. But for us at HSSH to be able to serve the campus research groups and develop ideas for support, an updated map of the field is really important”, Kunelius adds.

HSSH will use the collected information to create an accessible database on the research groups of the UH City Centre Campus. The database will include the topics, data, methods and contact people of research groups to provide information for networking and collaboration between groups.

The mission of the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH) is to support multidisciplinary research networks, facilitate cooperation between research groups and advance methodological development at the City Centre Campus of the University of Helsinki (UH).

Fill the survey here.


14.5. NRC Lecture with Maja Hojer Bruun: Engaging publics in emerging technologies through experimental ethnographic interventions


14.5.2024 15.00–17.00 at HSSH Seminar room 524, Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor (access via courtyard). Zoom link for remote participants.

Time and again, the introduction of new technologies has had disruptive effects on educational institutions, workplaces, different forms of social interaction, and whole societies. Not only are political bodies and regulatory frameworks lagging behind the pace with which new technologies are introduced but so are public conversations and awareness in general. It seems that the well-known forms of public engagement and discourse, e.g. political debates and hearings or consultations with experts or lay people, do not reach those issues that over time turn into large-scale social problems. One could claim that the reason is that we cannot predict how emerging technologies will affect our everyday lives, as long as they are not there, full-scale and over a long time. In this talk, I argue that we need new forms of social inquiry that simulate practical, everyday settings to study emerging human-machine interactions and to open new forms of conversation and debate. I draw on examples from my own ethnographic experimentations with emerging technologies, including drones, emerging data infrastructures, AI and large language models, where I engage citizens, students, and employees on their own turf.

Maja Hojer Bruun is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Anthropology in the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University where she convenes the Research Program Future Technology, Culture and Learning Processes. She is editor of the Palgrave Handbook of the Anthropology of Technology (2022). She has published widely on emerging digital technologies (robots, drones, cryptographic technologies, information infrastructures, AI), based on ethnographic studies and interventions. In her current research she focuses on the interprofessional collaborations and new forms of expertise that go into the development of automatic and algorithmic systems and on the use of large language models in higher education.

Maja Hojer Bruun is a Visiting Professor at HSSH in 2024.


Brown Bag Seminar every Tuesday at 12.15 – next session with Visiting Professor John A. Bateman on 7.5.


The Methodological Unit of HSSH hosts a weekly event, Brown Bag Seminar, to highlight novel methodological approaches in humanities and social sciences. 

The seminars are organized as hybrid events. You’re warmly welcome to join us at the HSSH Seminar Room, Vuorikatu 3, room 524, 5th floor, or on Zoom.

Click here to add the Brown Bag Seminar events directly to your calendar (.ics file).

According to a researcher at the Methodological Unit, Matti Pohjonen, the idea of the meetings “is to introduce methodological innovations and cutting-edge research in various disciplines in an easily accessible manner and have an interdisciplinary discussion in an easy-going atmosphere over lunch.”

Every Tuesday at 12.15. In the next meeting on 7.5. John A. Bateman will talk about multimodality research as a model for interdisciplinary work. Bring your own lunch, we bring fresh methodological topics!

Read more about the event on our website!


14.5. Twitch Chat Collector & Analysis tools online workshop


May 14, 10:00 am - 11:00 pm, Online.

The Twitch Chat Collector & Analysis tools are a set of digital resources to collect and analyze large samples of chat data from the game stream service Twitch. One of the biggest transformations across contemporary media cultures is the proliferation of streamed audio-visual content with textual communication features. Online streams of both amateurs and professionals are changing the ways through which people engage with the world. While online streams have been studied increasingly over the past years, the employed methods we currently have are typically qualitative and lack the means for processing larger amounts of content. In this online workshop, participants will (1) get to know about the Twitch Chat Collector & Analysis tools and discover what they can do with them; (2) learn how to apply the Twitch Chat Collector & Analysis tools in their research; and (3) overall become familiar with the DARIAH-FI research infrastructure. The workshop is open to all but requires registration by April, 30th. Read more and register here: https://forms.office.com/e/NsrP4uVSz5

DARIAH-FI (www.dariah.fi) is a national network connecting universities to build and share digital tools, datasets, workflows and teaching materials for the needs of social sciences and humanities (SSH) in Finland. This workshop is organised by Tampere University, in collaboration with University of Jyväskylä and University of Helsinki.


4.6. Participatory RDM workshop for SSH researchers


Are you a social sciences and humanities (SSH) scholar that conducts research with large amounts of data and works with social media data and/or visual materials*? Then the info below might interest you!

Tampere University and the CSC - IT Center for Science are looking for volunteers to take part in a study for developing the DARIAH-FI (https://www.dariah.fi/) research infrastructure. The purpose of the study is to (1) understand the research data management (RDM) practices of SSH scholars that conduct data-intensive research and work with social media data and/or visual materials; (2) comprehend how these practices are currently supported; and (3) identify how can we better support this aspect of the digital humanities and computational social sciences research process. If you’re interested, please fill the form at this link https://forms.office.com/e/GrfPA5M444 and you will be contacted by one of the members of the research team via email with more information about the study. Sign up only if you are available on the date of the workshop. Recruitment will be open until reaching the desired number of participants. As a participant in the study, you will have the opportunity to discuss RDM with peers and contribute to the development of best practices and support services in Finland.

The workshop (in English) will take place on Zoom on Tue. 4.6. from 10-12. If you have any questions, you can contact directly the workshop orgainsers Anna Sendra Toset (anna.sendratoset@tuni.fi) or Minna Ahokas at CSC (minna.ahokas@csc.fi).

*By visual materials, we mean born-digital or digitized images (e.g., digitized archival images) as well as the visual content of audiovisual and multimodal media.

DARIAH-FI (www.dariah.fi) is a national network connecting universities to build and share digital tools, datasets, workflows and teaching materials for the needs of social sciences and humanities (SSH) in Finland.


Rajapinta & HSSH Meetup 7.5.: Large Language Models as research assistants: creating codes and research designs


Time: Tuesday 7.5. 14–16

Place: University of Helsinki, HSSH seminar room (access via Vuorikatu 3 courtyard, take the elevator or stairs from Café Portaali to floor 5B, room 524 is on the right after a glass door) or online via Zoom.

Zoom link: https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/61063820117?pwd=dWhlTUYreDcxaHJzL0JoUC9EZlo0…

Password: 5992

This meetup is a joint effort by Rajapinta and HSSH

Since the launch of GPT-4 one year ago, Large Language Models have been considered methodological treasure troves. How can we as researchers use Large Language Models in creating research designs? How can LLMs help us conduct analysis and can we really trust the received outputs? Can one do coding with the help of LLMS without having coding skills? These are just a few questions that will be addressed in this meetup, and we welcome all to learn and discuss the topic. Presentations and discussion will be in English.


Matti Pohjonen (University of Helsinki): Generative AI as a research companion - Introductory remarks on methodology

Ilona Kousa (University of Helsinki): Qualitative content analysis and classification with LLMs

Jukka Huhtamäki (Tampere University): Doing data analytics with ChatGPT - Demo and reflections

Contact information: Viljami Vaarala (viljami.vaarala@helsinki.fi


Cloud-C Workshop in Berlin


Cloud-C is a transnational research network and infrastructure developed by HSSH to study mediated climate politics in social media. This network consists of a team of over 20 from around the world collectively working on the same large-scale dataset collected from Twitter about two pivotal events related to climate change debates: Cop26 and Cop27 environmental summits.

The workshop took place over two days in April at the Weizenbaum Institute in Berlin, Germany. It was co-organized under the guidance of HSSH Visiting Professor, PI for Networked Society at the Weizenbaum Institute Barbara Pfetsch. Attendees included HSSH's Risto Kunelius, Matti Pohjonen, Juho Pääkkönen and Dayei Oh.

The first day involved sharing results from the ongoing analysis of the Twitter data, discussing different research approaches, methodologies developed and what’s been learned so far. The second day focused on planning future steps. This included talks on how to expand the data collection to cover newer discussions, improve analysis methods, and increase teamwork among the researchers as well as potential collaborative publications.

“It was exciting to meet with such a diverse network of research teams from around the world each dealing with data and methodology challenges in often unique yet overlapping ways,” Pohjonen said. 

This workshop not only served as a platform for sharing knowledge and refining research strategies but also strengthened the collaborative ties between the researchers involved. By continuing to analyze how climate change is discussed in the digital sphere, the Cloud-C network aims to contribute significantly to understanding and influencing the discourse around environmental policy and action.

Click here to read the article on our website (including photos by Matti Pohjonen).


8.5. Guest Lecture with Dries Daems (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam): Unravelling the Threads of Connectivity – Integrating computational modeling and network analysis to trace material networks in the Hellenistic and Roman Mediterranean


Wednesday 8.5.2024 15–17, Topelia (Unioninkatu 38) D 204

The study of material interaction networks in the ancient Mediterranean is a dynamic and multidisciplinary field engaging with a wide range of topics, such as identifying trade networks and economic exchange facilitating the spread of goods, ideas, and technologies; the production and distribution of material culture; urban networks; road and maritime networks; and socio-cultural exchanges and the spread of ideas, beliefs, and cultural practices.

Yet, our insights are hampered by the nature of the archaeological record, which offers only a limited reflection of the actual socio-economic, cultural, and political dynamics of past connectivity and interaction. Yet, they remain our most important material source of information to help us untangle the complex networks of intentions, relationships, interests, and opportunities underlying the production and distribution of material culture in the Mediterranean.

In this talk, I will present a computational methodology integrating computational modeling with statistical approaches such as mutual information analysis and network science. Using available datasets such as the ICRATES dataset of Hellenistic and Roman tableware and the ORBIS dataset of maritime and terrestrial trade routes in the Mediterranean, I aim to outline a useful way forward towards uncovering some of the underlying drivers of interaction and exchange in the transformative period of the Late Hellenistic and Early Roman Imperial period (150 BCE – 150 CE) in the eastern

Dries Daems is an archaeologist specializing in the Iron Age to Hellenistic Mediterranean. His research interests include social complexity, urbanism, connectivity and information exchange, artisanal production, and human-environment interactions through computational modeling and pottery studies. He is currently Assistant Professor at VU Amsterdam and Visiting Professor at Helsinki University. He has held positions at KU Leuven, Koç University, and Middle East Technical University.



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